Acclaimed Taiwan artist to stage postmodern, pop art exhibition

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By Adam Tyrsett Kuo,The China Post

The arrival of pop art in the mid-20th century signified a blurring of lines between so-called low culture and high culture, again calling the definition and value of art into question. The “Marilyn Diptych” and the dozens of untitled Marilyn Monroe portraits that Andy Warhol made in the 1960s are in fact reprints of a publicity photograph taken for the 1953 film “Niagara.” In a way pop art paved the way for postmodernism, providing the latter with its prevalent sense of irony. Patrick Lee (李紹榮) is perhaps best known for his “Time for a Drink” (呼乾啦) collection — a series of silkscreen paintings that depict Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) standing together with a bottle of Taiwan Beer between them. There is clearly a message, but what that message is and how that message should be interpreted depends on the spectator, just as Oscar Wilde once put it: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” In addition to the politically oriented “Time for a Drink” collection, Lee is also well-known for his minimalist landscapes as well as the “Simply Symbols” (符號中國) collection in which he incorporates both eastern and western iconography on the canvas, removing symbols entirely of their referents. Those who have followed Lee’ s work know his breadth. He moves effortlessly between contrastive themes. Religion, politics, history and tradition are all a part of his repertoire. His latest collection of artwork, titled “Some Like It Hot” after the 1959 comedy, features screenprints of the above-mentioned Monroe portraits. While Warhol’s work was largely interpreted as an observation on “death and the cult of celebrity,” Lee’s reprints can be thought of as a play on irony: a reprint of a reprint. And yet the artist’s intent may be purely aesthetic, but any critic worth his or her salt is aware of the conundrum called authorial intent. Critical conundrum’s aside, Lee’s storytelling is undeniably remarkable, no doubt a consequence of an extraordinary life chronicling an idyllic childhood, success, international disputes, a six-month sting operation, time spent in a foreign prison, homecoming and a return to the canvas. A reception for the “Some Like It Hot” exhibition will be held on Friday, April 24 at Lili Gallery, Bar and Restaurant in Tianmu.

‘Some Like It Hot’ Reception : Time & Date: 7 p.m., Friday, April 25 Address: No. 760, Sec. 6, Zhongshan N. Rd., Shilin District, Taipei